Lemon chicken pasta has all my favorites. Pasta flavored with lemon and parmesan cheese topped with flavorful chicken. Add some fresh herbs and a generous sprinkle of fresh parm and this dish is a winner.
Chicken Breast: Lemon and garlic marinated chicken is at its absolute best when grilled. If grilling isn’t an option, you can pan-fry the chicken.
Lemon Juice & Zest: The lemon flavor comes through in both the chicken and pasta thanks to using the juice and zest of one fresh lemon. If you love the taste of lemon as I do, a zester is a great, inexpensive tool to have in your kitchen.
Olive Oil: Keeps the chicken moist and juicy in the marinade.
Fresh Garlic: Garlic and lemon are a terrific combination and go so well with chicken.
Salt & Pepper: Enhances the flavors.
Oregano: This versatile spice pairs well with chicken. Dried oregano works well in the marinade.
Penne Pasta: You could substitute a different pasta shape, but I love how the sauce coats penne pasta.
Butter: Combines with olive oil to sauté the pepper and give the sauce flavor and richness.
Ripe Bell Pepper: Adds nice color and texture to the dish.
Flour: Combines with the butter to thicken the sauce.
Half & Half: The creamy base for the sauce.
Fresh Spinach: A few handfuls of fresh spinach add vibrant color and freshness to the pasta.
Parmesan Cheese: Adds sharp intense flavor to the pasta. Parmesan is really delicious with lemon.
Fresh Basil: I love the smell and flavor of fresh sweet basil.
Start by mixing the marinade. Place the chicken in a resealable container or Ziploc bag. Move the chicken around in the container to assure the marinade covers all the meat. Try not to have the chicken in the marinade too much over two hours as the acid in the lemon can make the chicken mushy.
While Hubby is starting the grill for the chicken, I start boiling water for the pasta. While the pasta is cooking you will make the sauce. Swirl the butter and olive oil in a skillet, then sauté the bell pepper. Add the garlic and stir as it becomes fragrant.
Stir in the flour until incorporated then add the juice and half & half. The mixture will thicken as you stir. Once the sauce is thickened, stir in the remaining ingredients. The spinach will wilt as it cooks.
Drain the pasta, reserving a scoop of pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce in the skillet. Add a tablespoon of pasta water if the sauce seems too thick. You will the sauce to coat the pasta. I add water with care as we like a thick, rich sauce.
Slice the grilled chicken and serve on top or on the side of the pasta.
Serve with a side of veggies or a salad. Whether for date night or just a nice dinner anytime, lemon chicken pasta is a delicious, satisfying dinner.
Lemon Chicken Pasta
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- ½ lemon juice, zest at this time for later use
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced or grated
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp oregano
- 1 cup dry penne pasta
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup ripe bell pepper chopped
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 Tbsp flour
- ½ lemon juiced
- ½ cup half & half
- 1 cup fresh spinach coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- salt & black pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil roughly chopped – plus additional for serving.
- Combine first 6 ingredients and mix well. Place chicken in a sealable container or Ziplock bag and pour marinade over chicken. Marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
- When ready, grill chicken until done. Allow it to rest for a few minutes and then slice into strips to serve over pasta.
- Boil penne pasta according to directions (10-12 minutes).
- Reserve ½ cup of pasta water and drain.
- While the pasta is boiling, make the sauce. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add olive oil. Add red pepper and sauté until somewhat soft. Add garlic and sauté for one minute.
- Add flour and stir until the flour is incorporated. Add lemon juice and half & half. Stir as the mixture thickens. Add spinach, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and fresh basil, and heat until cheese is melted and spinach is wilted. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
- Check the consistency of the sauce and add some of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary. Toss in pasta. The sauce should be thick, but loose enough to cover the pasta.
- Serve with grilled chicken sliced on top with additional fresh basil, if desired.